The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation

Responsive image

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation

Welcome back!  Last week, we looked at the foundation of creating a logo. You might want to read that first because this week we’ll be looking at evaluating said creations. The analyses will include traditional logo wisdom, and then venture into a modernized school of thought.  Whichever approach works for you, remember that your logo should represent your brand’s core message. Pencils ready?  Begin.

Traditionally, a logo has three essential functions:


This one is obvious. You see the golden arches, you think McDonald’s. A logo is how people identify your brand in the marketplace.

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation - McDonalds


A good logo distinguishes your company from the competition in some form or another. The Ford logo is very different from the Chevy logo, and even though they both sell automobiles, the differences in the logos differentiate the companies and their core message. Gucci and Chanel, not so much.

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation - Chevy Ford Gucci Chanel


A logo communicates a message about the company, either overtly or subliminally. Think about the Toys ‘R’ Us logo. Everything from the funky arrangement of colors, the typography, and the backwards ‘R’ communicates that this company is for children.

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation - Toys R Us

Graphic design titans like Paul Rand (designer of IBM, UPS, ABC, Enron logos & more) had a few more basic considerations when it came to logo design. His minimalist designs, and other lead designs of the time, generally followed the following guidelines:


  • A logo should look as good in black and white as it does in color -- not as important today because of printing technology.
  • A logo should be scalable -- whether it’s banner ads or billboards, you want your logo to look good at any size.
  • Most of all, a logo should be original -- easier said than done of course, but true all the same.


Now, we’re about to get pretty pedantic here.  Continue if your heart pumps analytical blood through your veins, or skip ahead to after the apples if you’ve had it with as much as you can stand of this technical gibberish.  The choice is yours.

As technology has evolved, a new school of thought that eschews a lot of traditional logo wisdom has arisen, based around the ARMM model. The ARMM model posits that a logo can be incredibly complex and still be effective as long as it causes these four cognitive effects in order:

Attention Grabs the attention of the viewer, if it isn’t noticed, every other aspect is moot.
Response Causes an instinctual, appropriate emotional response, people like it on a gut level.
Meaning Similar to communication, it represents the brand well.
Memory Easily recognized and recalled, otherwise any benefits will be short-lived.

The ARMM model also analyzes logos on the basis of propositional density, a (somewhat depressingly) mathematical way to break down creativity. A proposition is a descriptive statement that cannot easily be broken down into simpler statements. There are surface propositions-- the visual elements of the logo, and deep propositions-- the subliminal meaning behind those visual elements.

For example, the Apple logo has an apple body, a missing chunk, a leaf at the top, and is usually black or white. Apples are a symbol of health, knowledge, scientific advancement (Newton), education, and the black and white colors convey minimalism and technological efficiency. There are probably even more deep propositions, but if we take the ones we just came up with (6), and divide them by the number of surface propositions (4), we get a propositional density of 1.5. It’s a cool way of evaluating and comparing logos, but relatively meaningless as far as the creative process goes because it’s a tool for comparison in the context you create.

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation - Apple

We warned you that there would be some left-brain activity!  Whether you are a doodler or a designer, there’s no question that your logo is a major spokesperson for your business (yes, credit unions included!).  For the majority of westerners, when someone sees one of the apples above, they associate it with computers.  But not just any computer.  Very specific images are conjured up.  And even more stuff these days, with iThis and iThat all emblazoned with that one simple, common fruit.  Our take is that your logo needs to be memorable, attractive, and meaningful.  Our logo is our name, but unlike last week’s post using Barbie as an example, we go beyond just playing with typography to have the word itself incorporate the imagery of peas >> peas in a pod >> The Pod.  We feel it receives high marks in all of the categories we’ve been discussing, but we’re also biased.

The folks over at Adweek recently shared the following infographic by Udemy about deconstructing logos.  They did all the heavy-lifting of examining logos from 50 brands and this is what they came up with:

The Anatomy of a Logo Part 2: Evaluation - Udemy


Now, after all this, we’ll ask you again, how do you feel about your logo? Or any logo! Are there any out there that you’ve always loved but never really knew why it resonated with you?  Maybe the propositional density is strong within it…  If you’re not wowed by your own logo, or think it’s time for an update, reach out to us!  We have helped lots of folks with their brand identity and would love to see how we can help you get more Blooming Creative!